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Preliminary MetroLink route options for south county narrowed to three


Four preliminary light-rail alternatives for south county have been narrowed down to three, according to officials of the Metro South Study team, which is planning MetroLink for south county.

The three alternatives that will advance to detailed analysis are the Orange and Blue lines, both of which would terminate at Butler Hill Road, and the Purple line, a much-shortened Red line, that would end at or near Watson/Kenrick Plaza. All three must begin at the Lansdowne terminus where the current cross-county line via Clayton to Shrewsbury will end.

The alternatives that were eliminated were the Green line, which would primarily have run along Mackenzie Road, and the Red line from Kenrick Plaza south past St. Anthony's Medical Center to Tesson Ferry and Butler Hill Roads.

"We reduced the number of alternatives based on a broad technical evaluation and public input that compared the benefits and impacts of the four alternatives," Justin Carney of EastWest Gateway Coordinating Council, which is leading the Metro South Study, stated in a news release. "We received extensive community comment at our public meetings and presentations plus through our study Web site, hotline and letters. Much of this input mirrored the technical analysis."

The four preliminary alternatives were compared to one another in the areas of access to opportunity, economic development, neighborhood preservation and performance and cost.

Overall, the Blue route, which would follow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway to north of Lindbergh Boulevard across to Interstate 55 and south adjacent to the Westfield Shoppingtown South County, came out the strongest, especially in the area of economic development benefits.

The Orange line, which would run along the River Des Peres and south along Interstate 55, rated slightly better than the Blue alternative in the areas of neighborhood preservation and performance.

"Most public comments we received called for eliminating the Red and Green lines because people said they would disrupt neighborhoods and our evaluation results bore this out," stated Uri Avin of HNTB, which is the lead consultant on the study team.

However, a new possible alternative has emerged, the Purple line. This very short alternative, which emerged from the analysis of the Red line, is being considered because of the potential for economic development near Kenrick Plaza, and its potential to meet the transportation goals of the Metro South study and serve south county commuters with less overall community impact.

The Metro South Study is a federal planning study, sponsored by the EWGCC in partnership with Metro and the Missouri Department of Transportation. The groups are striving to develop potential light-rail alternatives for south county and then select one preferred alternative.

The three remaining alternatives will now be studied in greater detail. They will be compared to a "No-Build'' option, which consists of the planned and committed improvements anticipated to be in place by the year 2025, and to the "Transportation System Management'' option, which are improvements that attempt to address the need for transportation improvements, but without building a fixed transit guideway.

Based on the results of the detailed analysis and public input, a recommendation on a preferred alternative will be made to EWGCC's Board of Directors this summer.

For more information about the Metro South Study, visit www.metrosouthstudy.org.

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